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Giving it Your Best Shot - Win Like Murray at Work

Andy Murray has become the first male British tennis player to win Wimbledon in 77 years. After years of trying, he finally found his key to success. It is truly wonderful when a plan comes together and like so many others I am proud of and delighted for him.

Grand slam success has come slowly to Murray and there have been some bitter moments along the way. For several seasons, he struggled while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic collected 29 out of 30 major titles. His mother Judy thinks that the setback when he lost to Roger Federer 12 months ago was a turning point of sorts. She said, "Every time you have a really tough loss, a loss that really hurts you. I think you learn a lot about how to handle the occasions better going forward."

Murray persevered and learned how to handle things better. It’s not just skill, there also physical and mental resilience and this was evident in Sunday’s final. His persistence, focus and sheer hard work, can teach us some useful lessons in the workplace showing us how to progress even when it feels as if we’re hitting our heads against a brick wall.

The Key to success in the workplace is planning (it’s a life skill too, not just confined to work). Being forgetful and disorganised is not charmingly kooky; it’s a pain. Make a list to ensure that urgent matters are attended to in a timely way as well as important issues. Make your list in one place, focus on each item one at a time, finish it and don’t get distracted. If you’re tackling a big project, start at the end and work backwards, deciding what has to be done, in what order and by when.

Effective use of time is also a winning characteristic. Many people find that reading and answering emails can take up most of the day so ration your access to them allowing you time to fully concentrate on other matters. Meetings can be a phenomenal waste of time. Make sure you have an agenda and timetable and stick to them. If I’m tight for time (what do I mean “if”? I’m always tight for time!) at the start of the meeting I say that I will need to leave at a given time. 15 minutes before my deadline, I remind the others that I will have to leave at the stated time and suggest we bring forward and deal with anything that’s really urgent. At three minutes to I gather my papers and ask if there’s anything else I can help with today. Then I go at the time stated. There’s real value in seeing people face-to-face, but be judicious. In some cases such conversations could be handled by a phone call or Skype.

Write down your objectives. This helps focus your mind and means you don’t forget what you are trying to achieve.

As Andy Murray has shown us ‘practice makes perfect’ so continually practice your job skills and try to improve on them. Remember most performance appraisals measure you by your skills and your ability to learn new ones. Develop new skills to increase flexibility and to avoid the risk of your skills becoming outdated.

Build up a network of people whilst seeking out new contacts and remember to stay in touch with them as you never know when you might need their help. Your contacts might be able to help you find answers, or new opportunities.

Learn how to switch off from work to pursue hobbies or spend time with family and friends. The ability to live in the here and now brings enormous benefits to your overall wellbeing Regular breaks from work allow you to refresh yourself and be more enthusiastic when returning to your routine.

Learn how to adapt to changing situations and keep an open mind. Learn from your errors and turn them to your advantage. Be prepared to have a go at anything (even if you’re outside your comfort zone) and if you hit a painful snag, don’t be put off. Use it as your turning point and come up with interesting ways to get round it (or find a different solution).

Most of us spend a good deal of time at work. If we plan to succeed, follow in Murray’s footsteps and take winning actions. I’m not saying you’ll be sprinting round Centre Court at Wimbledon clutching the gold trophy this time next year but you’ll certainly have learned more, achieved more and enjoyed it more. And that’s quite a win-win.

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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